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The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) sat with government representatives on Monday in Myitkyina to identify the catalyst for a series of recent clashes in Hpakant and Tanai townships in Kachin State.
The talks represent the second time both sides have sat as part of a “Conflict Negotiation Commission”, aimed at resolving differences by liaising closely on any outbreaks of hostilities in the northern region between the KIO’s military wing, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and government forces.
Sant Aung, a mediator at the talks, told DVB that each side presented differing perspectives on how armed clashes had broken out last week, but agreed to consider conducting joint field trips to investigate the causes of the hostilities.
“The delegates talked about the recent assault when government forces attempted to capture four or five KIA outposts under the command of the group’s 6th and 14th battalions. However, each side’s version contradicted the other,” said Sant Aung.
“The KIO agreed to conduct a field investigation concerning the clash involving the KIA’s 14th Battalion, while the government representatives said they must first seek approval from their seniors before doing so.”
He said government forces advanced on KIA outposts in Hpakant and Tanai townships on 18, 19 and 20 April.
The Conflict Negotiation Commission is made up of five representatives from both sides and was formed in October 2013 under an agreement between the KIO and the government’s Union Peace-making Work Committee. It was originally intended to hold meetings once a month, starting in October 2014, aimed at reducing tensions and sporadic violence in the region. However, the scheduled first meeting was suspended in November following the Burmese army’s shelling of a KIA training camp that killed 23 cadets.
The commission finally sat for the first time on 6 April, setting the agenda for Monday’s meeting.